This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
THE government has been called on to provide financial support for people required by law to quarantine themselves for 14 days under the “Test and Trace programme” it launched today.
Many workers could be pushed into financial hardship under the new programme, which requires anyone contacted by the government’s contact tracers to quarantine themselves whether they have coronavirus symptoms or not, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) warned.
Tracers will get in touch with people who have been in “close contact” – within two metres for upwards of 15 minutes – with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19. An army of 50,000 tracers have been recruited by firms including disgraced privateers Serco and G4S to work with Public Health England.
The TUC is urging the government to raise statutory sick pay (SSP) from £95.85 a week to the real living wage of at least £260 a week.
General secretary Frances O’Grady warned that the new programme will “not be effective” if workers cannot afford to stay at home as two million people aren’t even eligible for SSP.
“And the self-employed income support scheme must remain in place as a source of financial support for those forced to self-isolate. That’s how to show that we really are all in this together.”
On March 19, before Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed the lockdown, Ms O’Grady asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock live on BBC Question Time if he could live on SSP.
He acknowledged that he could not.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth also called for “enhanced” SSP, especially for people contacted numerous times.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is perfectly possible that you could isolate for 14 days, come out, meet somebody else again who’s got the virus and have to go back in.
“So this could be a huge burden for people.”
Mr Ashworth also said that there is currently an “anomaly in the regulations” in that SSP is only triggered when somebody tests positive for Covid-19.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) insisted that SSP can be triggered if someone is required to self-isolate under the new programme, and not just by a positive test result.
A DWP spokeswoman added: “We’ve made sick pay more generous by starting it from day one and will refund employers with up to 250 staff the cost of up to two weeks’ sick pay.
“Employers can, and many do, pay more than the statutory rate – something we encourage.”
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.